French President Emmanuel Macron has sparked fury after publicly refusing to follow in the footsteps of other European leaders in calling the Russian atrocities committed in Ukrainian towns such as Bucha “genocide.”
His U.S. counterpart Joe Biden accused Russian forces of committing genocide in Ukraine in remarks offered on Tuesday, explaining it has “become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of even being able to be a Ukrainian.”
Poland Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki also adopted the phrase to describe Russian acts of indiscriminate mass murder in Ukraine, telling fellow European leaders to act more decisively, insisting “you cannot negotiate with those who commit genocide.”
However, Macron has resisted calls to follow suit, telling France 2 on Wednesday that world leaders should be “careful” when using such inflammatory language.
But speaking on France 2, Mr Macron said world leaders should be “careful” with the terminology on genocide, insisting that Ukrainians and Russians are “brothers.”
“It’s madness what’s happening, it’s incredibly brutal,” he told the broadcaster. “But at the same time I look at the facts and I want to try as much as possible to continue to be able to stop this war and to rebuild peace. I’m not sure that verbal escalations serve this cause.
“I would say that Russia unilaterally unleashed the most brutal war, that it is now established that war crimes were committed by the Russian army and that it is now necessary to find those responsible and make them face justice,” Macron added.
“I would be careful with such terms today because these two peoples (Russians and Ukrainians) are brothers.”
Macron faces a tough battle on the campaign trail in the next two weeks as he faces off once again with conservative presidential rival Marine Le Pen, who he beat to take the keys to the Élysée Palace in 2017.
After the two achieved the highest vote share in the first round poll conducted on Sunday, the distribution of the vote for left-wing Jean-Luc Mélenchon, and the right-wing populist Éric Zemmour could prove vital.